Richard Belzer, a comedian and actor best known for playing Detective John Munch in several NBC crime dramas, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Homicide: Life on the Street, has died at the age of 78.

According to his manager Eric Gardner, Belzer died early on Sunday, February 19, at his home in France.

Bill Scheft, a writer and longtime friend of Belzer, said that he had “lots of health issues.”


He made his film debut in the comedic satire The Groove Tube (1974) alongside Chevy Chase. The film contained skits that featured social commentary on television shows of the 70s.

He also served as the warm-up comedian for Saturday Night Live and made three guest appearances on the show in the late 70s.

As John Munch, Belzer played one of the most memorable cops in TV history. He first appeared on NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999 and was featured in four episodes of Law & Order.

He then played Munch in Law & Order: SVU. He became a series regular and starred in 326 episodes between 1999 and 2016.

Belzer portrayed Munch as an intelligent and hard-working detective who believed in conspiracy theories and had a dry sense of humor.

In a recent interview with The Boomer Tube, the actor said, “The character is very close to how I would be. They write to all my paranoia and anti-establishment dissidence and conspiracy theories, so it’s been a lot of fun for me. It’s been a dream actually.”

As a follower of conspiracy theories, Belzer wrote the book, UFOs, JFK and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Believe.

He played a detective in 11 other television series, including The X-Files and The Wire. Belzer also made crossover appearances as an investigator in comedies like 30 Rock and Arrested Development.

Before his career as an actor, Belzer’s first love was for comedy in New York City. He was known for appearing at comedy clubs and voicing his views on current political and social events.

He is survived by his wife, actress Harlee McBride, and stepdaughters Jessica and Bree.

Leave a comment

Read more about: